Gstaad, Switzerland, July 13, 2019 - Anders Mol and Christian Sorum entered this week's FIVB World Tour event with disappointment, but the young Norwegians will be leaving the Swiss Alps village with smiles on their faces after winning the gold medal at the Swatch Major Gstaad here Sunday for the second-straight year.
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The pre-World Championships favorites, but only third-place finishers this past Sunday in Hamburg, Germany, the top-seeded Mol and Sorum became the first men's team since 2006 to win back-to-back Gstaad titles as the Norwegians posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) title-clinching win in 34 minutes over 21st-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands.
With the victory, the 22-year-old Mol and 23-year-old Sorum collected the $40,000 first-place prize in winning their eighth World Tour gold medal with their first FIVB title being in Gstaad 364 days ago. The 29-year-old Brouwer and 31-year-old Meeuwsen shared $32,000 for finishing second.
It was Mol and Sorum's second-straight FIVB World Tour win over the Dutch as Brouwer and Meeuwsen dropped a pool play match May 30 to the Norwegians in the Czech Republic. Prior to that meeting in Ostrava, the Dutch had won four of the first five matches with Mol and Sorum.
After the award's ceremony, Mol said "I’m really proud of how we performed this week, how we managed to recover from the world championships in such a good way. We were a little disappointed about the semifinal, of course really happy with the bronze, but we were going for the gold. But it was as long week with a lot of media, a lot of new things for us."
As for Gstaad and winning a second gold medal, Mol added "it felt like coming home a little bit. We just love it here, we love playing in Gstaad, we have so many good memories from last year so we were really excited to play here and ready to put on a big fight for the cowbells. So I’m happy and proud of how we managed to find energy in the end."
Mol said the gold medal match was his team's "best game in this whole tournament for sure. We really won that golden cowbell and we really wanted that win against Robert and Alex. They’re such an amazing team. They’ve had a little bit of a tough season. They’re such a strong team and for us it’s weird to see them losing these close games. We know they can play on a such a good level and they showed it this tournament. I hope to meet them a lot more in finals because it’s always fun to play against them."
Sorum said winning "old back to back in Gstaad is amazing. It’s was special last year since we were hoping for a cowbell before the tournament. Of course, that’s everyone’s dream. Then we won the quarterfinal, then we won the semifinal and we had a cowbell then we won the final and to be back here this year and fight for another cowbell. Mentally it was tough so to be standing on the top of the podium in this tournament as well, it’s real amazing. And we got out 100th victory."
With Norway meeting the Netherlands for the first-time in a men's World Tour gold medal match since the start of FIVB-sanctioned events in 1987, Mol and Sorum advanced to the finals with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) win in 40 minutes over sixth-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil.
The semifinal victory was the Norwegians' 100th FIVB win as Mol and Sorum became the fourth-fastest men's team to reach the century match mark in 124 World Tour starts. Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, the last men’s team to win back-to-back Gstaad titles, reached 100 wins in 119 matches with compatriot Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran and Americans Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena accomplishing the feat in 124 matches.
Brouwer and Meeuwsen, the 2013 FIVB World Championships winner , reached the final by posting a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) win in 37 minutes over 12th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy. Earlier this week, the Italians defeated the Dutch pair in pool play.
Meeuwsen said "we put in our best effort but it was not even close to enough. They played well and it’s a different level. We’ll have to work hard and find a way to beat these guys."
Brouwer echoed some of the same statements as his partner and said "next year we have an interesting little tournament coming up (Tokyo Olympics). As Robbie said, it’s for us to work really hard, practice hard and find that way to beat these guys."
Alexander Brouwer (left) and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands
In the bronze medal match, Evandro and Bruno rebounded with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 15-12) bronze medal win in 50 minutes over Lupo and Nicolai. While the Brazilians split $20,000 for placing third on the podium, Lupo and Nicolai shared $16,000 for fourth place.
Evandro Goncalves (right) with a Mikasa reception as Brazilian partner Bruno Oscar Schmidt follows the action
It was the third FIVB meeting this season between the two teams with Evandro and Bruno now leading the World Tour series 2-1. The Brazilians won the last meeting in Warsaw a month ago where Evandro and Bruno captured the gold medal by defeating Mol and Sorum in the Polish Open gold medal match.
An exhausted Bruno said after the match that “we can’t deny we are tired for sure. We can’t deny that we are not frustrated by not being in the final. We deserved that. I want to give all that I have learned to Evandro and we have one of the best spots, we are two of the best players. I’m working very hard to come back from injuries and everything. We will continue, we still have a long season. For Brazilians it is very hard, we don’t have many breaks.
Nicolai said that “the first set was close, and I think both teams played very well. For the crowd it was nice to see. The tournament was a very high level with the best teams in the world. We leave here without a medal but one of the teams is going to do that. We have a chance next week in Espinho to win.”